This image made available on Feb. 15, 2017 by NASA shows an artist’s concept of the launch of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule. On Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, NASA said it is weighing the risk of adding astronauts to the first flight of its new megarocket. (NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center via AP)

Senate launches bill backing Georgia space flights

The state Senate backed a bill Thursday clearing the way for commercial space flight launches in Georgia, starting a crucial countdown toward final passage.

House Bill 1, sponsored by state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, has been dubbed the Georgia Space Flight Act. It essentially sets legal rules over liability involving private property and any would-be astronauts, a first for the state. It says that those participants would have to assume the risks for injuries or accidents and sign “informed consent” waivers, except in cases of gross negligence by the company sponsoring the flight.

Spencer has said the bill is aimed at attracting private companies trying to get into the space business, something he thinks could attract jobs to the state.

The bill passed on a 44-6 vote. Because of changes made in a Senate committee, it now goes back to the House for review.

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